Working Mom Must-Haves

3 inspiring working moms share the registry items they can’t live without.

Working Mom Must-Haves

It's hard to know what life with baby will be like, but if you're planning to be a working mom, there's some stuff that's just universal. Like: the daily struggle to find balance is real. A little support can go a long way. And, your baby registry is for so much more than baby--it's also for stuff that you won't be able to live without as a working mom.

We know, not every baby boutique will let you register for just what a working mom needs (MZ Wallace bag, anyone?). Which is why we went out and found you some pretty inspirational working moms to share those clutch items that will make your new life a breeze. It's also why our friends at the personalized registry site Gugu Guru have added tons of them (and other unique registry recommendations related to your unique lifestyle) to their product picks. Because baby registries should be as much about mama as they should about baby, right?

Get these working mom must-haves on your own baby registry stat, then head over to this week's giveaway and win a package that will help you go back to work with style and ease.

JULEE WILSON, Senior Fashion Editor at The Huffington Post

“The only way I can describe the day I went back to work is: bittersweet. I had spent the last 12 weeks getting to know this amazing little being and now I had to hand him over to a perfect stranger (albeit an amazing nanny). However, while I was sad to walk out the door, I was thankful that I would be walking back into a dope job, surrounded by super talented people, and living a career that I always dreamed of. You can't have it all -- but you can have a lot. I have a lot.“

JULEE'S WORKING MOM MUST-HAVES:

  1. "Orion" nameplate necklace. Always gotta keep my baby boy close to my heart. Enough said.
  2. Moleskin notebook. I love these durable journals for working on stories as I ride the train to work and jotting down precious memories -- like Orion's minor and major milestones.The
  3. Belly Bandit. Much to my dismay -- yet not surprisingly -- my body didn't bounce back to it's former semi-taut state. With that said I needed some help pulling these together. Enter, the Belly Bandit. One word: amazing.
  4. MZ Wallace "Metro Tote" bag. Every gal needs a chic and reliable work bag and this is mine. I also have a larger camo-printed one for Orion's diaper bag. In a nutshell: It's as close as you'll ever get to carryall perfection.
  5. Brother Vellies denim "Erongo" shoes. Transitioning back to heels took so time -- so in the meantime I indulged in a pair of great casual flats like these dope all denim kicks by Brother Vellies.Get all of Julee's picks here!

GRACE LEE, founder and CEO of Nine Naturals

“I've had to ease myself back into work. It's a lot to juggle work with the schedule of two kids. I feel fortunate to have a job that allows me that flexibility and an incredible team that keeps things running smoothly at Nine Naturals, even in my absence. The things that make going back to work easier are things that add convenience and efficiency to my life."

GRACE'S WORKING MOM MUST-HAVES:

  1. Stylish nursing wear for easy access when pumping at the office are a must. I sure as DON'T want to be taking my shirt on and off at the office. My favorites for style and functionality are: the Au Lait Shop Tank and Mitera Collection Charlotte Nursing Dress (pictured above).
  2. A monthly membership to ClassPass. With ClassPass I can pick up a class anywhere in the city at a time and day that works for me. It makes it easier to squeeze in a workout when I have free time.
  3. Bottle Sterilizer and Dryer. A lot has changed in between my two pregnancies -- including new, improved gadgets! The Baby Brezza One Step Sterilizer Dryer sterilizes AND dries your bottles and pump equipment. No more drying rack needed!
  4. A versatile bag that is both fashionable and functional. As a working mom, I'm always on-the-go! I need a bag that can take me from school drop-off to work to kids' activities, while also big enough to carry my laptop, breast pump, diapers and the rest. My friend and fellow working mom, Jocelyn (the founder of the online store Tuckernuck) introduced me to the MZ Wallace Metro Tote. It's the perfect carry-all and made of a lightweight fabric that is water- and stain-resistant.
  5. Meals from Plated. Plated is a weekly meal delivery service that sends you food ingredients and recipes. It takes the stress out of meal planning and I love being able to try new recipes.Get all of Grace's picks here!

JESSICA SHORTALL, author of Work. Pump. Repeat: The New Mom's Survival Guide to Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work.

“With my first child, going back to work sparked in me a really deep, terrifying anxiety. I sobbed while I was still in the hospital, and started having panic attacks while home on leave. I ended up battling postpartum anxiety, triggered by the combination of going back to work and being obsessed with being 'successful' at breastfeeding while working long hours and traveling a lot for my job. I couldn't imagine a world in which I wasn't with this baby ALL. THE. TIME. And I agonized over the idea that he'd somehow forget who I was (this is crazy, and did not happen).

The good news is that with my second baby, I didn't have the same demons. I really leaned into that maternity leave...so much snuggling and napping together and binge-watching of Scandal. I worked hard at taking the breastfeeding pressure off of myself, even as I continued to breastfeed as much as I felt was healthy for me."

JESSICA'S WORKING MOM MUST-HAVES:

      1. Soothing gel pads for your nipples for early breastfeeding. No, this isn't a work thing, but dude: your nipples are really going to hurt at first. I used the Medela kind, and cut them in quarters because they can get pricey. My top hack? Setting them on top of a cup full of ice for a few minutes before applying them. Can you say “ahhhhhhhhhhh"?
      2. Coconut oil. I never used the stuff because I didn't know it was a thing, but apparently pumping women swear by it. You kind of grease the insides of your pump flanges and it makes the whole thing less terrible.
      3. Pump-friendly work clothes. This means crossover tops, wrap dresses (if you're cool with having a very visible post-baby tummy and/or you own stock in Spanx), button-down shirts, shirt dresses, and layered camisoles and tops. You can certainly get dedicated pumping clothes from brands like Loyal Hana (pictured above), or ask from some gift cards from some mainstream stores and go buy some "I still look about 5 months pregnant but I'm not" pumping- and working-friendly clothes.
      4. Pumpin' Pal breast pump flanges. These are compatible with most pumps, either as replacement flanges or to drop into the pump's standard flanges, and I literally don't have the right words to describe how game-changing they are if you're going to be pumping all the time. They hurt less, they minimize spills and drips of milk, and they can even support greater milk output. I've met the founder -- an inventor who was tired of seeing his wife struggle with the lame flanges that most pumps come with -- and he is a great guy who really just wants to help working moms.
      5. Electric Pump. I'm assuming in all of this that the expecting mom's health insurance is going to cover a double-electric breast pump. Obamacare requires most insurance plans to cover a pump, although double electric vs. single manual is not specified, so it can be hit or miss. If I were registering for a pump today, I'd go with the Ardo Calypso. I've never used it myself, but it gets great reviews and it is totally silent...no more lying on conference calls when people ask, "What's that weird sound?"
      6. A My Brest Friend nursing pillow. Get over the silly name and get one of these. It's so great when your baby is tiny, because it fits snugly against your body so the baby doesn't kind of melt into the crack between the pillow and your body. And the fact that you can buckle it onto yourself and walk around the house (NOT with the baby still on it) makes it kind of amazing.

Get all of Jessica's picks here!

This post was brought to you by Gugu Guru.

Want to win $700 in working mama essentials for your own back to work journey? Enter here!

In This Article

    How one company is making a huge difference for LGBTQ youth

    Take notes, all you other brands, this is how it's done

    Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

    This article is sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    We spoke to Chris Bright (he/she/they), Director of Public Training at The Trevor Project, who works closely with H&M. Chris shared with us the Trevor Project's important mission, and what all brands should do to best support LGBTQ youth today.

    1. For those that do not know, what is The Trevor Project's mission? What is it all about and its impact on society?

    The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people, and LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight or cis peers. Our mission is to end suicide among the estimated 1.8 million LGBTQ youth under the age of 25 in the U.S. who seriously consider suicide each year.

    Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project launched TrevorLifeline, the first 24/7 national lifeline supporting LGBTQ youth in crisis alongside HBO's broadcast of the Academy Award-winning short film Trevor. The first calls were answered that night. Since then, we have grown from reaching several thousand LGBTQ youth per year to becoming the preeminent resource for LGBTQ young people in crisis, directly serving over 200K LGBTQ young people in the last fiscal year alone. We work tirelessly to save young lives by providing support through our free and confidential crisis programs on platforms where young people spend their time — online and on the phone. In addition to TrevorLifeline, we offer 24/7 digital crisis services including TrevorText and TrevorChat, as well as TrevorSpace, the world's largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth.


    H&M + The Trevor Project

    2. Can you describe the nature of the relationship/partnership the Trevor Project has with H&M?

    Our collaboration with H&M has been remarkably successful, with H&M driving awareness of The Trevor Project and our services among its audience while also demonstrating its strong support of LGBTQ young people. H&M first partnered with us in December 2020 during our "Every Single One" holiday campaign, where they donated $250K in matching funds for Giving Tuesday. This helped The Trevor Project have our best-ever Giving Tuesday moment.

    Our work together has had extensive impact, allowing H&M to engage employees, customers, and community members in conversations about LGBTQ Allyship through Trevor's resources and mission. We're thankful for H&M's support, which helps us continue to operate and improve our 24/7 life-saving crisis services so we can serve more LGBTQ young people.

    3. Why was H&M the right company to partner with?

    H&M is an established yet relevant brand that has the attention of young people, and we're always so thankful to partner with youth-facing brands that can not only spread messages of love and support, but also can increase the awareness of our crisis services and resources. We know that H&M genuinely cares about creating a better future for LGBTQ young people.

    4. What do you see as the biggest challenge or struggle for LGBTQ kids today?

    LGBTQ youth are incredibly diverse, with so many intersecting identities and unique experiences — making it difficult for me to pinpoint what might be the single biggest challenge or struggle for all LGBTQ youth today.

    What I can say, however, is our research reveals numerous challenges or struggles that may be more prevalent across the board for LGBTQ youth. According to our 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which captures the experiences of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 24 across the U.S., nearly 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. Over 94% of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health and more than 80% of LGBTQ youth stated that COVID-19 made their living situation more stressful.

    What's clear is that while there is no single biggest challenge or struggle for our LGBTQ youth today, it's critical that we find ways to uplift and support each and every LGBTQ young person that we can.

    5. Since it's back to school time, are there stressors or situations that are uniquely heightened for LGBTQ youth, other than the standard new school year jitters, that people don't necessarily know about?

    Our research has found that LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one LGBTQ-affirming space had 35% reduced odds of attempting suicide in the past year, with LGBTQ-affirming school environments having the strongest association with reduced suicide attempts. Since the onset of COVID-19, the volume of youth reaching out to us has significantly increased, at times nearly double our pre-COVID volume. Feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety have been heightened as a result of the pandemic, further emphasizing the need for LGBTQ youth to have access to spaces that affirm their identities, such as gender-neutral bathrooms, trans-inclusive sports, and positive extracurricular activities such as Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs).

    LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one accepting adult — whether it be teachers, coaches, or counselors — were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. The Trevor Project created the Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention, which includes requirements for teacher training, mental health instruction for students, and policies and procedures for suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that as in-person learning returns, schools provide LGBTQ students with safe learning environments where they can feel empowered, supported, and accepted by their peers and educators.

    H&M + the Trevor Project

    6. In what way is the support that The Trevor Project provides crucial to LGBTQ youth, especially as it pertains to suicide prevention?

    The support that The Trevor Project provides is so crucial because suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people — and LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight or cis peers. LGBTQ youth reach out to Trevor because we are LGBTQ-affirming and a trusted provider of crisis services. All of our volunteers are highly-trained to answer calls, chats, and text from LGBTQ youth 24/7 when they are feeling suicidal or need a safe, non-judgmental place to talk.

    Almost three-quarters of youth stated that they either would not or were unsure if they would have another service if The Trevor Project did not exist. We aim to be there for every young LGBTQ person in crisis with a clear message: you are loved, your life has value, and you are never alone.

    7. What do you think the responsibility is for brands to be involved in pro-social, activism-related work?

    Everyone can play a role in creating change and building progress in our society. Brands — especially those with large platforms and influence — have a responsibility to fulfill that role as well. We recognize H&M and our other brand partners for helping spur progress on important issues, and we encourage others to follow suit. Beyond the essential financial support that brands can provide to nonprofits like The Trevor Project, there's also a direct benefit for the community when brands are loud about their support of Pride; we've found that more than half of youth said brands who support the LGBTQ community positively impact how they feel about being LGBTQ. Finally, it's important to remember that Pride doesn't begin and end in June — the opportunity to support Pride is 365 days a year. We are thrilled to have H&M as a year-round partner for The Trevor Project, demonstrating their authentic support for our work.

    8. What is one of the biggest impacts or positive results you have seen come from the partnership between The Trevor Project and H&M?

    We wouldn't be able to do the work we do and make the progress we've made without our brand partners like H&M. The Trevor Project has experienced significant growth in the last few years with the implementation of our five key program areas: crisis services, peer support, research, education and public awareness, and advocacy. Since 2019, we've been working to scale our volunteer training to increase the number of crisis services counselors on a yearly basis. In addition to original, intersectional monthly research briefs, our research team launched the world's largest survey of LGBTQ youth mental health in 2019, and has released a total of three national, annual reports. We've ramped up Trevor's advocacy work on the local, state, and federal levels to protect the rights of LGBTQ people, including bills to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy that have been in introduced in 40 states. H&M's partnership helps us advance this work by raising significant funds and awareness for our mission. During June 2021, when H&M served as one of our key Pride Partners, our crisis counselors served over 19,500 crisis contacts with free, confidential support via phone, chat, and text.

    9. How important is it for LGBTQ+ youth to see allies in popular culture, be it a celebrity or high profile person, mainstream brand, etc.?

    LGBTQ representation in the mainstream media is extremely important as it makes LGBTQ youth feel seen, validated, and confident that they are not alone. Over 80% of youth said that celebrities who are LGBTQ positively influence how they feel about being LGBTQ, and more than half of youth said brands who support the LGBTQ community have a positive impact on their LGBTQ identity. As we continue to see increased visibility for marginalized communities in popular culture, diverse images will become normalized, which in turn creates a safer, more accepting world for all of us.

    10. For people who want to get involved with a cause like The Trevor Project, what is the best way to make a difference?

    There are a number of ways to get involved with The Trevor Project – from making a donation (TheTrevorProject.org/Donate) to applying to be a volunteer (TheTrevorProject.org/Volunteer) to spreading the word about our resources.

    Affirming spaces and support systems work to save young LGBTQ lives. People can be active in their communities to ensure that more safe, affirming spaces are available and thriving. Even making an effort to respect someone's pronouns and encouraging those around you to do the same can make a huge difference. Our research has also found that LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt. If you get the opportunity, be that one person for a young person in your life.

    If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project's trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

    Our Partners

    This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

    My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

    When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

    One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

    I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.


    Honestly, it's no wonder. Originally designed as a better blanket for luxury hotels and engineered with textile experts to create this uniquely soft fabric, it has made my bed into the vacation I so desperately want these days.

    The comforter is made up of two layers. On one side is their signature knit "snug" fabric which out-cozies even my most beloved (bought on sale) cashmere sweater. The other, a soft quilted microfiber. Together, it creates a weighty blanket that's as soothing to be under as it is to flop face-first into at the end of an exhausting day. Or at lunch. No judgement.

    Miraculously, given the weight and construction, it stays totally breathable and hasn't left me feeling overheated even on these warm summer nights with just a fan in the window.

    Beyond being the absolute most comfortable comforter I've found, it's also answered my minimalist bed making desires. Whether you opt to use it knit or quilted side up, it cleanly pulls the room together and doesn't wrinkle or look unkempt even if you steal a quick nap on top of it.

    Also worth noting, while all that sounds super luxe and totally indulgent, the best part is, it's equally durable. It's made to be easily machine washed and come out the other side as radically soft as ever, forever, which totally helps take the sting out of the price tag.

    My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

    Here is my top pick from Sunday Citizen, along with the super-soft goods I'm coveting for future purchases.

    Woodland Snug comforter

    Sunday-Citizen-Woodland-Snug-comforter

    The bedroom anchor I've been looking for— the Snug Comforter.

    $249

    Braided Pom Pom Throw

    Because this degree of coziness needs portability, I'm totally putting the throw version on my list. It's washable, which is a must-have given my shedding dog and two spill-prone kiddos who are bound to fight over it during family movie night.

    $145

    Lumbar pillow

    sunday-citizen-lumbar-pillow

    What's a cozy bed without a pile of pillows?

    $65

    Crystal infused sleep mask

    sunday citizen sleep mask

    Promoting sleep by creating total darkness and relaxation, I've bookmarked as my go-to gift for fellow mamas.

    $40

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    Shop

    Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

    The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

    Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

    We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

    All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

    And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


    Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

    Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

    Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

    Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

    When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

    Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

    Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

    You've got this.

    Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

    The Motherly Birth Class

    pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

    Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

    $79

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    Shop

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

    So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


    Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don't think it will be put away too often!)

    $139

    Secret Agent play set

    Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

    This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Stepping Stones

    Stepping-stones

    Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

    $99.99

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Sensory play set

    kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

    Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $19.95

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Foam pogo stick

    Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

    Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

    $16.99

    Dumptruck 

    green-toys-dump-truck

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

    $22

    Hopper ball

    Hopper ball

    Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

    $14.99

    Pull-along ducks

    janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $16.99

    Rocking chair seesaw

    Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

    This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

    $79.99

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $79.99

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $24.75

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    Shop

    10 ways to strengthen your kids' mental health

    Now that school is back in session, there are new stressor to manage. Here's how to deal, mama.

    ksenia_she / Twenty20

    Summer is over, the new school year is in full swing, and we are all adjusting to our new routines. Whether you're over the moon or an anxious mess, let's face it... returning to school is yet another major change for our kids in a year already filled with uncertainty. From wearing masks to the rise in COVID cases, we just don't know what this year is going to look like. But what we do know is that this past year and a half has taken a toll on our kids' mental health.

    It's no surprise that you're wondering: "How the heck do I protect my kids' mental health, when I'm also struggling to hold everything together?"

    Now, I won't be able to completely ease your mind; however, I can outline 10 proven strategies that may help your family.


    I'm Dr. Mercedes, a child psychologist and parenting expert. I run the clinical team at Manatee, a virtual mental health clinic that helps families thrive and overcome the mental health challenges during these tumultuous times.

    I've had a front row seat to the amazing resourcefulness, patience, flexibility, and determination of parents. It's not an easy task to make your kids feel safe, secure, and confident during a pandemic that has left us all trying to ground ourselves again. Which brings me to a key point; there is a lot of pressure on this school year for most parents and kids. We all ask ourselves, "How can we make up for lost time?" "How can I ensure that my kid is thriving and performing in school AND feeling ok?" "Can they make friends again?" "How much anxiety is normal?"

    Well, if we've learned anything during the Olympics from Simone Biles (and many other athletes), it's that mental health is the foundation for anything we want to accomplish. Similarly, kids cannot excel if they are emotionally and mentally struggling. So, if we want our kids to thrive in school, in their social lives, and with their families, we must focus on setting their mental health up for success.

    10 ways to strengthen your kids mental health

    1. Stay positive AND realistic

    Kids will have ups and downs. We all have ups and downs. Make sure you ask open-ended questions about how they are feeling in general, then about school, with their friends, and about life. Avoid being overly optimistic by saying things like: "It's going to be a great year!" "You'll be fine!" Instead, be supportive and realistic. Let them know that some days do feel easier than others, but they can do hard things and will be able to overcome challenges. If they have bad days, it doesn't mean that the entire year will be difficult. Some key questions to get the conversation started:

    • How are you feeling about being back in school? How is it going with your friends?
    • What have you enjoyed the most?
    • What has been the hardest so far? What has helped you on the harder days? How can I help you?

    2. Create a family wellbeing manifesto

    A family manifesto communicates to your kids, "this is what we value as a family". It shows unity and helps emphasize your values and goals. This is a great way to practice point #1. Stick it on the fridge door or somewhere else that's visible, so kids and parents have a daily reminder. For inspiration, take a look at Manatee's family manifesto that we love and use with our own kids!

    3. Listen to your kid

    Prioritize connecting with your child. Listen to what they are interested in, what is bothering them and what is exciting. Try to not ask too many questions, but listen and watch how they respond. This will help you pick up on any mood changes quickly. Research shows even 15 minutes dedicated to connecting and learning about your kid or partner's world makes a huge difference (e.g., catching up in the car, asking for input on a work project, extra snuggles before bed or cooking together). You do not need to schedule something extra in, it's all about being truly present and making your kid or partner feel seen.

    4. Focus on gains, not losses

    We know kids are probably a little behind academically and socially. We know kids have missed out on opportunities, and for many of us our social skills have taken a hit. Some kids have regressed, and lost skills that they had previously mastered. Focusing on the losses will only teach your child to do the same. Instead, what have they gained? What growth can you celebrate? Are they more independent learners now? Were they able to spend more time with siblings or parents? Did they get better at using technology? Did they discover a new interest or hobby at home? Did they learn how to be flexible and adapt to new situations? Have they gained confidence after overcoming these challenges? Highlight these important lessons!

    5. Praise effort

    ... and not grades or outcomes! This is always recommended, but particularly this year when parents, kids, and teachers may be extra concerned about "falling behind." If your kid is trying their best, they are doing great! Focus on their hard work, practice, positive habits and continued discipline. These skills are the cornerstones of success. Marry the process, not the results.

    6. Stick to a routine

    Many of our routines went out the window last year, however, morning and night routines are very important, even for teens! It doesn't have to be clockwork everyday, but a schedule helps your kids create healthy habits and avoid the dreaded daily arguments. In fact, routines help kids get more sleep (vital to learn and develop social emotional skills), build confidence and independence, and reduce stress and anxiety!

    7. Relaxation, exercise, nutrition and sleep

    I know. Easier said than done, but these "four pillars of health" are vital to maintain mental health and should be considered as you build your family's routine. Brainstorm creative and fun solutions with your kids, for example; make a weekend family activity rotation that gets you outside or introduce a fun mealtime schedule like 'meatless Mondays' 'taco Tuesdays' 'veggie Fridays', etc. The key is to make it work for your family, and though you may get some crazy suggestions, letting your kids have a say will likely get them excited.

    8. Don't over-schedule

    Most of us are no longer used to being in a social setting for many hours a day. School is likely EXHAUSTING for many kids right now and so are the emotional waves that come with a new school year. Avoid overscheduling kids or yourself! Allow an hour of downtime after kids come home from school. Us humans need that mental relaxation to perform well. Whenever possible, keep 2 hours of 'unscheduled' time in everyone's days. Time for your brain to decompress and be bored are very important for brain development, creativity and problem solving skills.

    9. Make a 'Coping Toolbox' together

    Create a list of tools with your kids that they can use when they are upset (e.g. going for a walk, calling a friend, listening to music). For inspiration, check out our self-care tool. When we are upset, we have a very hard time thinking of what may help us, so building one ahead of time can be helpful. If they use one of their 'coping tools', be sure to praise your kid. For example, if your child is angry and goes outside to kick a soccer ball, you can say; "That is such a great way of letting your feelings out. I'm proud of you!" You can also ask what you can do to help when they are in a funk. Let your child complete this activity to give you (or any other trusted adult, like a teacher), a lot of clarity on what is actually helpful for your kid.

    10. Build a community

    For you and your kid. No one understands what you are going through like people in the same situation. Whether it's a new school, or going back to school, it is important for kids to feel connected to their teachers and other students. Help them have a sense of belonging. For example: Can they join a club? Volunteer to help younger students? Can you volunteer for school activities? Schedule a monthly activity with other school parents?

    But most importantly, pay attention to your kids as they adjust. Notice any changes and learn the mental health warning signs. Too many kids struggle for too long before their parents notice. If you aren't sure if your kid may need more support, talk to their school counselor, a therapist, or book a free 20 min session with a family expert at Manatee.

    Check out Manatee's back to school checklist for other tips and ideas to set your family up for success now that school is in full swing!

    Want to get more parenting tips on topics like this? Follow @getmanatee on Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook or learn more about us at getmanatee.com.

    Parenting

    It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

    A fascinating study explains why.

    When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

    "Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

    Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."


    This is even more proof that, as daunting as motherhood is, our hearts and bodies already know so much of what to do. From the way we talk to babies to our "spidey senses" when something is amiss, these things we do without second thought come from deep within us.

    In the case of standing with babies, the researchers concluded the "infant calming response to maternal carrying is a coordinated set of central, motor, and cardiac regulations and is a conserved component of mammalian mother-infant interactions."

    So why do babies stop crying when we stand up? Because being carried induces physiological responses that calm and soothe babies. Being carried by mom induces "central, motor, and cardiac regulations" that have a calming response stronger than rocking or other kinds of movement. Our babies evolved to want to be carried (which is good because sometimes mama has to do things that can't be done from a rocking chair).

    In other words, it's an example of us working perfectly in sync with our babies. So, on a day where everything feels really, really hard, it can help to remember you know what you're doing. Even, or especially, when you don't pause to think about it.

    Keeping your little one happy by standing up is easiest with a comfortable carrier. Check out some of our favorites.

    BABYBJÖRN baby carrier mini

    BABYBJ\u00d6RN Baby Carrier Mini

    This structured but lightweight carrier is ideal for the first months when your little one just wants to be close 24/7. Designed to easily put on and sneak baby off once they doze, it works to carry in multiple positions from birth to 12 months.

    $100

    BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One

    BABYBJ\u00d6RN Baby Carrier One

    This easy-to-wear design is equally comfortable for mama and baby. As your little one grows, the carrier adjusts to properly support their hips, back, and head at each stage of development.

    $190

    Tushbaby carrier - gray

    Tushbaby Carrier - gray

    From 8-44 pounds, this hardworking carrier lets you ditch the complications of sacks and strap-ins. A simple, memory foam-lined hip seat evenly distributes your little one's weight and takes the stress off mama's back.

    $79

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    You might also like:

      Its Science